Friendly waves and a pocketful of sunshine greeted over 90 little water warriors at Cox Bay on Saturday, Sept. 16 for the fourth annual Bruhwiler Kids Surf Classic.
The army of neoprene-clad kids tested their surf skills in a classic heat and judging format, with points being awarded for executing maneuvers on a wave and how long they could stand up for.
Raph Bruhwiler, a Canadian surfing icon and member of the host family, said the day opened up with perfect conditions for the young contenders.
“The ones that are small, they can catch the little reforms on the inside and the bigger kids can still make it out the back and catch waves out there,” he said.
Wolfe and Mackenzie Harris from Victoria entered their daughters Madyson, 9, and Ella, 7, in the Kids Surf Classic for the first time.
“They’ve surfed twice. We’re here for fun. They had everything for us, ready to go. It was fantastic. We just drove here. All we had to do is show up,” said Wolfe.
While some parents suited up and went in the water to support their child, Wolfe said he was fine to watch his daughters closely from the shore.
“My girls are pretty capable. We just let them have their own experience,” he said.
Mackenzie Harris, who was also looking after their two younger daughters, Ava, 5 and Holly, 2, said they were all having a blast.
“We will definitely come back next year,” she said.
“And the year after and the year after…” added her husband Wolfe.
“This is such a good experience. If my kids have to come up here to surf all the time, I’ll support that.”
Bruhwiler said the sport of surfing is definitely growing in Tofino, and he hopes that events like the Kids Surf Classic will help nourish a passion for the ocean.
“This is all we have here. We don’t have an ice rink, we don’t have a big swimming pool or big rec centre, we have the ocean, which to me, is the best thing we could have,” said Bruhwiler, who is part of the crew that operates Tofino’s Canadian Coast Guard Station.
“I think it’s important to get the kids out here because this is what we have. This is our playground.”
He paused for a moment to count the number of Bruhwiler kids entered in the Surf Classic.
“I think this year there are five of us ‘cause a bunch are missing, but there are a lot more,” he said.
“We’re just a family that grew up on Chesterman Beach and started surfing when we were really young kids…We started having kids and we want our kids to be part of surfing because we love doing it and it’s just a healthy thing to do.”
Bruhwiler went on to thank all the volunteers and sponsors that helped make the beach day so much fun.
“It’s definitely my favourite event to be part of and to watch for sure,” he said.
The Bruhwiler Kids Surf Classic is a free event that takes place every September. Surfboards and wetsuits are also provided for kids that don’t have their own.